NEW YORK (CNN) -- A giant lobster named George escaped a dinner-table fate and was released Saturday into the Atlantic Ocean after a New York seafood restaurant granted him his freedom, according to a statement from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.
George the lobster was a "sort of mascot" for City Crab and Seafood in New York.
The lobster, which PETA said was 140 years old and weighed 20 pounds, had been confined to a tank at City Crab and Seafood restaurant in Manhattan when two customers alerted the animal group.
The PETA statement did not say how the extraordinary age estimate was determined, but restaurant manager Keith Valenti told CNN that lobsters can grow a pound every seven to 10 years, and he put George's weight at 18 to 20 pounds.
"I've been here for 12 years, and that's the biggest lobster I've ever seen," Valenti said.
He said the lobster had been "sitting in the restaurant's tank and acting as a sort of mascot," but when PETA got involved and requested the release, it "seemed like the right thing to do."
PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement, "We applaud the folks at City Crab and Seafood for their compassionate decision to allow this noble old-timer to live out his days in freedom and peace.
"We hope that their kind gesture serves as an example that these intriguing animals don't deserve to be confined to tiny tanks or boiled alive."
Shedding the tight confines of his old restaurant display tank, George was driven to Maine by PETA members and was returned to his natural habitat on the ocean floor Saturday, the organization said.